Sometimes a certified translator’s own stamp and declaration are not enough, and a sworn oath or ‘Affidavit’ is also called for.
An Affidavit is a type of written statement made before a credible witness (usually, a Justice of the Peace or ‘JP’), and is considered reliable evidence in court. Where translating is concerned, an Affidavit
- identifies the translator
- affirms that s/he is competent to perform official translations between the languages in question.
- identifies the source document
- identifies the translation
The swearing process involves tying the Affidavit, Source Document and Translation together to give the maximum guarantee of authenticity. It normally works like this:
- You (or your lawyer) provide the certified translator with a copy of your source document
- The translator prepares a full translation of the source document
- The translator marks the source document with the letter ‘A’ and the translation with the letter ‘B’
- The translator (or your lawyer) prepares the Affidavit; there are standard affidavit forms available for download through some Courts, and certain law firms also prepare their own.
- The translator takes Source (‘A’) and Translation (‘B’) to a Justice of the Peace, together with the Affidavit.
- The translator signs the Affidavit in the presence of the JP, confirming the translator’s identity and credentials, and swearing that document B is a correct translation of document A.
This clearly involves extra preparation time by the translator and/or your lawyer. Moreover, most translators do not see a Justice of the Peace every day in the normal course of their business, which means they will have to find one who is available – this is not always easy at short notice, and impossible outside business hours. This makes the affidavit translation process slower and more expensive.
Affidavits are not that common, and the court or your lawyer will normally advise if you need one. By the way, if you ever need a Justice of the Peace yourself, they often work at banks, legal firms, real estate agents, pharmacies, medical practices and other community-oriented businesses.
A word about Extra Charges involved for Swearing Affidavits:
- Witnessing by a JP basically requires making a special trip, so
- translators will usually apply a reasonable charge for their time.
- what is ‘reasonable’ can depend on how urgent and/or difficult it is to find a JP when needed.
- JPs themselves do not charge for their service – there is no direct cost payable to them. So:
- You should query any invoice that attempts to pass on a supposed direct ‘service charge’ from the JP to you.